A teenaged couple in North Carolina have been prosecuted for having nude photos of themselves and each other on their cell phones, the Guardian reports. The boy took a plea deal to avoid jail time and being registered as a sex offender.
Cormega Copening of Fayetteville, North Carolina was 16 when the photos were discovered amidst a broader investigation into sexual images being shared without the subjects’ consent at his high school. Copening was not involved in that case, but was prosecuted anyway as an adult, under federal child pornography laws, for sexually exploiting a minor—himself. He is now 17.
Copening was charged with five sexual exploitation of a minor charges, the Fayetteville Observer reported: four for making and possessing two sexually explicit images of himself and the fifth for possessing a naked image of his girlfriend, Brianna Denson, 16. Copening was also suspended as quarterback of the Jack Britt High School football team while the case was ongoing.
According to the Observer, sex between Copening and Denson—who was charged two felony sex crimes against herself and took a plea deal in July—would not have been illegal, as the age of consent in North Carolina is 16. For teens less than four years apart in age, the age of consent is even lower.
Earlier this month, Copening also copped a plea, WRAL reported, admitting to two counts of disseminating harmful material to minors. Copening and Denson received the same deal: a year’s probation, during which time they are banned from carrying cell phones.